"The World of Bruegel in Black and White" at the Royal Library of Belgium
For the 450th anniversary of his death, this exhibition highlights a lesser-known part of Pieter Bruegel's artistic genius. Before dedicating himself to painting, the artist gained his global reputation from his rich production of engravings. The display will run until 16 February 2020.
After his great tour of Italy, the artist lived in Antwerp from 1555 to 1563 and created a number of drawings there for prints distributed by editor Hieronymus Cock. In the 16th century, Antwerp was also considered the global centre of printed images.
A number of different factors explain the enormous success of engravings at that time. It was difficult for images to circulate and large paintings did not travel. Engravings were therefore a way for artists to make their works known. They also had more freedom to use their imagination on these small formats than on large commissioned paintings.
As exhibition curator Joris Van Grieken explained, 'We have tried to recreate the ambiance of the period. In the 16th and still even in the 17th century, prints were presented on tables, bound in an album or were independent pieces. So, we are presenting them in wooden displays that you can lean on, in glass tables, and more.'
This refreshing plunge into the imaginary world of Pieter Bruegel is taking place until 16 February 2020 in the halls of the Palace of Charles of Lorraine, which then became the Royal Library, a special glimpse into the 18th century in the centre of Brussels.